Lesser known to the common man but an influential sensation to independent bands, Duster was last seen and heard from around the turn of the millennium and it seemed unlikely they would ever return. Nowadays, with lo-fi garage and indie rock being a far more popular sub-sound among millennial hipsters with vinyls and Spotify accounts, 2019 seemed like the right time for Duster to come back and- apologies for this analogy- sweep away their successive imitators.
Their third album, simply titled Duster is sonically much the same as their previous albums Stratosphere (1998) and Contemporary Movement (2000), and given the aforementioned indie surge in the 2010s it doesn’t need to be much more than that. “Copernicus Crater” plods along in simplistic, sleepy fashion, while “I’m Lost” is a 3-minute spectacle of depressive crashing and bare-bones grungy fuzz akin to Sonic Youth and Jeff The Brotherhood colliding in mid-ether. “Chocolate And Mint” is another dose of blissful lethargy that would easily cast its listeners into slumber (in a positive way) if not for the intriguing layers of effected guitar slapped craftily over its perfectly minimal rhythmic backbone.
“Summer War” comes with a little more energy though stays within the bounds of what is holy and customary to the slow-core indie arena. “Lomo” strips away much of the gritty, ear-piercing buzz and centres around soothing acoustic guitar, while “Damaged” sparks off with a distorted drum machine pattern before drowning in a vast ocean of equally distorted synths. Prior to the actual drums kicking in, “Damaged” manifests what you would imagine Hiatus Kaiyote sounding like converted to 8-Bit with the peak cranked all. the. fucking. way. up.
“Letting Go” follows in likewise meandering fashion to much of the album thus far, the vocals taking a back seat to the composition and drifting smoothly on its wave throughout. “Go Back” is pure escape, proclaiming lazily over a crackling, almost unpleasant wall of distortion: “I want to go back to the beach/I want to go back to the sun/I want to go back to a dream.” In contrast, “Hoya Paranoia” rolls along markedly cleaner terrain, albeit very loose without any sort of clear-cut direction- although polished, progressive sophistication was not the intended dynamic to begin with.
“Ghoulish” is another track peacefully floating in space, gradually working itself to ever higher levels of distortion that threaten the ears and speakers of the unaccustomed listener. “Ghost World” treks along in a gloomier manner, embodying perfectly the sort of minimalist-garage-doom-grunge that one would expect to hear in a busted-up basement house show reeking of beer and angst. “The Thirteen” is definitely more up though, finishing things off on a happier and more restrained note so those listening can depart not feeling too somber, wanting or auditorially violated.
Duster, by Duster, is a perfect record for the times and a sufficiently sufficient return for a band thought long gone from any sort of public attention. For those whose tastes are alien to the likes of Duster, their self-titled third LP or any of their work for that matter may come off as noisy, boring and uninspiring; to those more sympathetic however it is a long overdue comeback and a purging, cleansing means to rid one’s self of the insanity that surrounds us, if only for 45 minutes or so. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, and if any other similar bands are inspired to jump out of the grave and come back behind them.